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Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Forgotten Woodstock Performance

Left off the soundtrack and film, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s forgotten Woodstock performance sees the band firing on all cylinders.

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Creedence Clearwater Revival - Fantasy Archives
Photo: Fantasy Archives

What is sometimes forgotten with the passing of time and against the seminal influence of Woodstock is that Creedence Clearwater Revival was one of the few bands to appear at the festival that had already achieved significant success on the Billboard charts. Truth is, there are some that don’t even know the band performed there at all on August 17, 1969. The reason, of course, is that CCR was not in the movie or the album that came out in the wake of the festival.

Creedence’s hour-long set was like a greatest hits album, with “Bad Moon Rising” and “Proud Mary” both having reached No.2 on the Billboard Hot 100. As they walked on stage at Woodstock, just after midnight on Saturday, their current single, “Green River” was at No.15, its third week on the U.S. chart; it would be their third single to reach No.2. As John Fogerty later said, “By the time we got to Woodstock, I felt we were the number one band. Assuming that The Beatles were God, I thought that we were the next thing under them.”

Listen to Live At Woodstock right now.

To the band, Woodstock must have seemed like just another festival, as it did at the time to so many of the artists. In the summer of 1969 CCR had already played the Newport Festival in California, the Denver and the Atlanta festivals, along with the Atlantic City Festival. Given the fact that they were just about the hottest band on the charts, every promoter wanted them at the top – or close to the top – of the bill.

The festival set

Unlike so many of the bands at Woodstock, CCR went on stage fairly close to their scheduled midnight slot, even though they were supposed to be in a prime Saturday evening slot. According to John Fogerty, “We were supposed to be in the prime spot for that evening. The Dead went on and pulled their usual shenanigans”.

Their hour-long set started at half past midnight on Sunday, August 17, and kicked off with the perfect opener: “Born On The Bayou.” They followed it with “Green River” and then a cover of Wilson Pickett’s “Ninety-Nine And A Half (Won’t Do),” from their debut album, after which it was “Commotion,” “Bootleg,” “Bad Moon Rising,” and “Proud Mary.”

Up to that point, the group very much played the songs as you might have experienced them on the record. As their set progressed, however, they stretched their songs into longer, more improvised versions, which was their normal way of playing them. “I Put A Spell On You” stretched the five minute single to almost twice its length, while “Keep On Chooglin’” ran for close to ten minutes. “Suzie Q,” the Dale Hawkins classic, went far past its original eight-minute run-time.

Why were they not in the film?

Why were they not in the film? Most likely their record company at the time was unwilling to co-operate. Did it affect their career? It’s hard to say, but it obviously would have done them no harm on the world stage to have the additional exposure. Nonetheless, like “Green River,” “Bad Moon Rising,” and “Proud Mary,” both “Travellin’ Band” and “Lookin’ out My Back Door” made No.2 on the Billboard chart, and they eventually topped the charts in Britain with “Bad Moon Rising.” Their album, Green River, came out a month after Woodstock and it topped the charts, as did Cosmo’s Factory the following year. CCR were huge… but could they have been even bigger?

50 years after Creedence Clearwater Revival played Woodstock, their legendary performance is now available on Live At Woodstock that can be bought here.

12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Bill Kluck

    August 17, 2015 at 6:53 pm

    Creedence is a great band.One didn’t need to be blasted to enjoy them,unlike the dead.

    • Gerri

      August 17, 2015 at 10:39 pm

      you hit the nail squarly!

    • Tom

      August 22, 2020 at 3:16 am

      IgnoRant

  2. Michael Gorman

    August 18, 2015 at 12:04 am

    I think the fact that CCR produced so many ‘hit singles’ they were mistaken for a light-weight pop group, despite the gritty, bluesy sound – and the sensibility in San Francisco was psychedelic prog-rock at the time, it was only much later that people began to see the roots and sheer gutsy scaffolding of their sound, they had more credibility than many of those fly-by-night narcissistic bands that have long been forgotten, whereas CCR’s legacy lives on!

  3. Bruce Baldwin

    August 18, 2015 at 4:57 am

    CCR wasn’t in the movie because John wouldn’t allow it. They had been billed to play at 9:30, but the Dead had equipment trouble and played a 45 minute version of Darkstar, running hours over.

    John has said many times that when they hit the stage the crowd was asleep from the Dead’s set and as a result he thought it looked as if they (CCR) hadn’t rocked them.

    It was one of the many things that led to the breakup as the rest to the band wanted it in the movie and missed out on a lot of money and exposure because of Johns decision. Part of their set is included in the directors cut and they ROCKED!

  4. danny garcia

    August 18, 2015 at 6:05 pm

    No better way to say you guys rocck

  5. rob bruens

    August 18, 2015 at 10:20 pm

    the real truth is that the recording / sound of the performance was soooo bad that John Fogerty didn’t want to have it put on record.

  6. Tom Keating

    August 16, 2016 at 7:35 pm

    I was at Woodstock , saw CCR and they were better and more accepted than any other band there. Everybody in the audience got up and danced and rocked to their songs . I thought they were the best and was shocked when I saw they weren’t on the Woodstock album.

  7. Hayden george

    August 16, 2016 at 9:03 pm

    I saw John 2 times in London that guy is brilliant iv always been a ccr fan

  8. Peter fitzpatrick

    August 16, 2016 at 11:07 pm

    Credence Clearwater Revival.
    They were simply the best Country Rock Band of all time & John Fogarty,s rasping voice central to their sound.

  9. James

    August 17, 2019 at 12:12 am

    Had no idea they played at Woodstock until now, the 50th anniversary!
    Saw them live in Melbourne ,Australia in 1972.

  10. Dan Lopez

    November 30, 2019 at 5:17 pm

    CCR is a great band. I saw them right after Tom left the band and John about three or four times as a sole artist. No doubt about it…CCR was one of the top bands of their time and their music stills lives on today!

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